by Desmond White
You are in the forge when barbarians ride into the village, shooting flaming arrows, cutting down peasants in the streets. What do you do?
- A) Get cut down in the street.
- B) Focus on the customer. Offer the invaders your services. Produce cheap chainmail until they’re slain by the King’s Men.
You are in the forge when a dragon attacks. Fire, death. The people seek a hero. What do you do?
- A) Sneak into its lair. Become human barbecue.
- B) Offer swords to ‘wyrm-slaying entrepreneurs’ with a 25% investment in the dragon’s horde. Finally get lucky. Use the smoke-singed diamonds to expand the business. Hire an accountant.
You are in the forge but the nobility prefers a business not run by a woman. They go to the Nuric Brothers. What do you do?
- A) Watch your business crumble. Die a toothless crank.
- B) Open a brewery and spa, call it “The Forge.” Switch from smith to artisan. Sell merch. Tiny statues of the gods, trophies that say, “World’s Greatest Hero.” Bring a wizard into the ‘family.’ Sell flaming swords, sentient shields, quivers that never empty. Acquire the Nuric Brothers.
You are in The Forge sipping mead in a steam-bath when the Darkhand resurrects an ancient horror. Ghouls break from their coffins. Vortexes split the city like a jigsaw puzzle. What do you do?
- A) Scream as the wave of corruption converts you into a many-mouthed slime.
- B) Don’t thwart the end of the world, accept it. Offer axes to circling gargoyles, chains and fetters to your devil-faced masters, and a ring to rule them all TM to the abomination that has enslaved reality (along with black crowns to fit its many, many heads).
As your hands turn to claws and eyes pour out, rest easy knowing you always chose wisely.
Jake and the Rat Clash
by Martin Hoggard
Jake was afraid of comics, He didn’t know why he just got a really uneasy feeling when his friends used to read them in his tree house. Today was the day that he was going to face his fear.
Jake grappled with his piggy bank, trying to pull the annoying plastic plug out of the bottom of the porcelain robot. He then jumped on his bike and rode straight to the comic book store. Jake had a quick browse at nothing in particular and selected a random comic “The Rat Clash”.
“Not many kids have bought that one you know” said the shop attendant.
“It doesn’t really matter. I’m just trying it out. Thanks.” said Jake, as he put the comic in his backpack and left the store.
On the ride home he was still feeling uneasy about it but he wanted to overcome his fear. He got home and went straight up to his tree house sat down on his makeshift sofa made out of random wood and pillows.
He read the first two pages and the unnerving feeling got stronger, his hands started to shake and as he stared at one of the Scenes and began to fall into it. His mind couldn’t work out what was happening, he was falling into the comic.
“How is this possible? ” he thought.
He landed into the scene of a Rat wielding an axe in a dimly lit corridor. It was as tall as him and was standing on its hind legs, it took a swing at Jake. Jake didn’t know what to do, he glanced at his comic which was still in his hand and saw himself in it, he closed his eyes tight and dropped back onto his sofa.
“What the heck was that?”
“That’s Impossible” he said aloud.
Beyond the Cave
by Jack Koebnig
‘Did you hear that?’ Tommy asked, chewing on a chipped fingernail. ‘It sounded like … laughter.’
Of course Jenny had heard it, how couldn’t you? she thought. But she wasn’t going to admit it. If she did they would never get to the pool of green water at the centre of the cave.
And that wasn’t even the reason why they were here.
‘Come on,’ Jenny said, brushing past Tommy. ‘And keep up.’
Tommy held his tongue. It would be futile to protest. When Jenny was like this there was no getting through to her.
He followed her into the cave.
The air was cold and damp and tasted foul like spoiled cheese. Water dripped from the shiny tips of hanging stalactites, landing with muffled splashes all around them. Tommy stopped beside a small green puddle. ‘Is this what we’re looking for?’
‘Don’t be silly,’ Jenny answered. ‘You’ll know it when you see it.’
Whatever, Tommy thought, but said: ‘Okay.’
The light in the cave was growing dim, fading, Tommy thought, like a dying candle, and shivered.
Jenny stopped without warning. ‘We’re here.’
Tommy peered into the green pool. ‘So, what now?’
‘Now,’ Jenny answered, ‘we jump.’
‘W-what …’ It was all Tommy had time to say. Jenny grabbed his hand and together they broke the surface of the still green pool with a splash.
When Tommy opened his eyes again he wasn’t met by a bleary underwater landscape but by a dry dessert scene, vast and barren.
‘Look,’ Jenny said, running towards an object partially hidden in the sand.
‘W-where are we?’ Tommy asked, patting his dry jeans and t-shirt.
‘It’s his hat,’ Jenny said. ‘He can’t be too far ahead. Come on.’
And once again Tommy held his tongue and followed.
THE FLAWS OF TIME TRAVEL
by Irene Montaner
You first laughed at Rudy when he said he had written a time travel program. You then thought he was nuts when he explained how he had managed to bend and break the space time continuum. And yet you’re sitting on his worn out couch while he debugs some code on his laptop.
“See, adjusting this parameter we can leave this place and travel backwards or forwards in time,” he says.
A. If you want to foresee the future, go to F; if you want to experience the past, go to P. If you still don’t believe in time travel, go to X.
F. Acceleration cannot be stopped and the world goes dark around you. When you finally run out of energy you are in a cave and hundreds pairs of red eyes are gleaming at you. Morlocks! Run! But they’re too many and see better than you in the dark. If only there was somewhere to hide …
P. The time travel software works fine and you step out in the wilderness. It’s lush nature all around and not a single human settlement in sight. You only realise there’s no way you can charge the laptop’s battery here when you hear a terrifying growl. The dinos are here! Run! But they’re fast and hungry. If only you could run faster …
X. Rudy’s mad at you. He punches you in the face and you go home with a bleeding nose. You feel bad for the guy and wonder whether time travel can ever work. If you decide to go back, say sorry and give it a try, go to A. If you rather stay home, go to Z.
Z. You lie on your own comfy couch and turn on the telly. If only you liked adventures more …
Here be Dragons
by Jess Doyle
Welcome to the lava fields. Here the glowing ground ignites your feet and the air sears your lungs. Here be Dragons. Beasts the size of cathedrals. Wings that eclipse the crimson sky and sink you into the gravest of nights.
To the North, the mountains reach into the sky, icy mists descend to meet their snow-capped summits. There be trolls as tall as towers. Teeth like tombstones to crunch on your bones.
To the West, the savage sea. A perilous voyage awaits as ceaseless storms will batter your rickety ship. The sea is vast, dark and full of monsters. There be sea serpents. There be giant squid and sinister merfolk.
To the South, arid deserts. Nothing but sand and scorching sun. What lurks beyond the hazy horizon? Don’t put your trust in the Jinn for he is a trickster and means you harm. The Behemoth lurks here, do not disturb her for she is the devourer of worlds.
To the East, the forests. Ancient and enchanted. The canopy so dense; the forest floor knows no light. A great Sage dwells here. But so too do witches and wolves. Stick to the path, don’t trust the fairy folk.
Which direction will you choose? Don’t linger now, here be dragons.
THE WHITE AND THE BLACK ANGELS
by Olusanya Anjorin
There were two opposing teams in a highly organized society. One is the white angels who called themselves liberal, the other is the black angels who referred to themselves as the impregnable.
They worshiped different deities; their common denominator is that, as night fell, they queued to the desert, hiked to the mountains & rubbly hills. While some travelled in tunnels, rabbit hole to attend their gatherings. Their unusual denominator is the use of power and influence by the black angels to bewitch and direct the polices, opinions and affairs of the planet at will.
They ruled their kingdom with mysterious cabals. And when they are not present they pull the strings with infinite intelligence. When they observed any opposition they corral them on a grassy knoll, gurgle and growl. Hypnotized and subdue them making them eat from their palms.
In a clash of the titans, the genius of the white angels was dwarfed by the impregnable black angels who lived in a highly fortified cave. The disappearance of the maze was what rendered their absolute power ineffectual. The conflict was as a result of the enchanted beauty of one of the liberal’s daughter which the Impregnable Prince could not resist. The white angel sees the prince wooing one of them as a ploy to get them extinguished.
To find the maze, the power of the Black angels must be annihilated in the firmament. The Black angels learnt of the coming inferno as they unfurl their wings patterned with venoms and flailed endlessly.
By a strange quirk of fate, the maze ends in the hands of the white angels. The flailed venoms failed to produce poison. Life and luck intervened to handover victory to the white angels. The defeat was a stunning victory as the black angels were severely stung.
William and the Magic Book
by Jody Kish
William loved reading. It enabled him to go to far away places, and have many grand adventures. His happy world changed, however, upon his mother’s death.
His 11 year old inquisitive mind was a nuisance to his stern and rigid aunt, and William would sadly walk to his room to read. The pages were lackluster without being able to tell his mom about it.
Escaping his Aunt’s dreary world, William road his bike to an old bookstore. As he parked his bike and went inside, he bumped into an elderly woman. They began talking at great length, and she presented him with a book.
“This is for you,” the woman smiled. “I hope it takes you to very special places.”
He peddled to his aunt’s house like a shot of lightning; dropped the bike on the grass and darted in. He ran to his room, closed the door and started reading from the book; and just like that, he felt the magic surround him.
“You can go anywhere and do anything you choose, William,” said the sorcerer from the page.
William really wanted to fly—not alone, but with dragons!
Before he knew it, William was soaring with dragons—wind in his face—a smile from ear to ear. They glided above oceans, mountains, and castles. They flew threw puffs of cotton candy, and soda waterfalls. William’s sadness floated away as wings lifted him higher and higher.
He eventually grew tired, and a yawn escaped him. William closed the book with regret, and fell peacefully asleep.
The next day, William was ready to be whisked away on another magical adventure. This time, he wanted to sail an indestructible ship on the Norwegian Sea and fight the fearsome kraken.
“Are you ready, William?” asked the sorcerer. “What are we doing today?”
by Monica Wenzel
Anna needed a decision: continue her move to the other coast, or stay here at her friend’s house? Living with Mom challenged her patience, even with calming potions she made almost daily. But she has the promise of a job there and a place to live, not just sleep on a couch. She had neither if she decided to stay. But she had time and space to practice her magic without someone watching every move of her hand.
She wished her grandmother, the one who saw into the future, not the one who frowned at her abilities, was still alive to tell her what to do. She also wished for her life to be more like those books she loved when she was younger. The ones where she got to pick how the story turned out. If she made a choice that got her an ending she didn’t like, she just flipped back and picked something new.
This was her life and not just a book. Life choices didn’t come as easy as turning pages. No well-worn book sitting in the back of her moving van could help her decide now. But she did have something else Grandma gave her for times just like this.
From her purse, she dug out her special coin. She whispered her spell to have it pick her new home for her, Minnesota or Virginia. She held it for a moment and kissed it for luck.
She tossed the coin in the air and thought about staying in Minnesota. The side with the letters MN faced up and she smiled. She thought about her family in Virginia. The coin flipped over. It kept jumping on the ground like a fish.
Anna groaned. She had to decide without her magic.
Kill Or Spare
by Chloe Gilholy
The Soul Snatcher
by Vidhya Harish Iyer
It was late evening, and the Kraal stood at the gates of Drauchtsnang awaiting his prize. A flurry of goblins passed him. ‘He won’t come,’ they sang.
‘But of course, he will.’ Plumes of smoke rose from the barren trees and scattered dead bird feathers all over him. A gong sounded, signaling the ominous beginning of an evening.
A wisp of mermaids swam in a giant blob of water that defied gravity and traveled across the land. They giggled, ‘Soul snatcher! You’ll go empty handed today.’
Twilight arrived, and the trees yawned languorously. A bunch of somnambulant figures waving to the rhythm of the wind passed by him.
‘Stop, show me your hands.’ The omniscient smile on the Kraal’s face grew wider. His gnarled fingers each danced to a different rhythm.
The figures paused and each of them drew out their hands for examination. There wasn’t much on their lean bodies and defeated expressions. They were prisoners of war from the Shafferstung Lang, the land of the mortals, highly prized since they were the only beings of the realm that possessed souls.
The tired listless beings were on their final journey to the land’s end of Drauchtsnang after being drained of their souls.
But the Kraal could smell an outlier. He was an expert soul snatcher.
‘You,’ he flashed his Trident at one of them. ‘Show me your chest.’
The man broke away from his group and tore his vest. A sneer appeared on his face. His empty eyes filled up with triumph as he snatched the Trident from the Kraal.
‘I have sold your soul to your master! That Trident now belongs to me!’
The Kraal gasped.
In a land of soulless beings, he had long forgotten that he, the soul snatcher of Drauchtsnang, possessed a soul.
by MK Roney
What a prick.
Here he was, Hagy Montaigne, one of the best axmen this side of the Ocken River,
wasting his afternoon sweeping up after this kid.
Just this morning, the boy had figured out how to gather air and keep it compressed
through sheer force of will so he could physically throw it. It was impressive the first time, watching the wooden dummy explode, splinters and bits of cloth flying through the air. Hell, even Hagy would admit it was just as impressive the second and third time. The kid had kept at it all afternoon, blowing up dummies left and right until they’d run out and he’d moved onto the little saplings sprinkled around the courtyard.
He only knocked it off when Kiran had run out of the kitchen, screaming about his fruit trees being blown to hell. And then, because he was just so weary, the kid had buggered off, leaving the courtyard carpeted in the aftermath. Self-proclaimed Sorcerer Superb, who taught the kid the stupid trick, had just waved his hand around.
“Clean this mess,” the old bat said. And then he just walked away. Like he hadn’t been
the one who insisted the kid blow shit up in the courtyard. Not the forest like Hagy had said, oh no, the Chosen One mustn’t get his new calfskin boots dirty.
Yeah, there was a handful of angry elves who’d wander around outside the castle, but if the kid couldn’t even defend himself against elves, what was the point? Just punt him out, let him get some experience, and they’d be on our way. That’s how Hagy learned. These kids nowadays were soft. Give him a hero who’d spent his childhood raking muck from stables, who’d had to kill what he ate. Yeah, a real hero.
by Dave James Ashton
Your party is preparing to ambush an Orcish encampment. Nearby there is a haggard crone, begging for aid.
TURN TO PAGE 5 to help her before attacking.
TURN TO PAGE 3 to ignore the mysterious stranger and initiate combat.
Foul goblins have your party surrounded! They demand an offering to allow you safe passage through their lands.
TURN TO PAGE 6 to swallow your pride and tithe them.
TURN TO PAGE 4 to smite the disgusting filth for their impertinence.
You and your friends ignore your mother and keep playing the XBox. Mum gives you a serve, then sends your mates home.
You and your friends thump your little brothers. They go whining to your parents, and you are in trouble.
After aiding the crone on her trivial errand, your party girds their loins, draw swords and rush into the fray. You rout the foe!
TURN TO PAGE 7 to go carousing.
TURN TO PAGE 2 if you continue deeper into the swamp.
Gritting your teeth, you give the goblins a share of your loot. Your party makes their way through the foetid swamp, ready for combat.
There is a mighty roar, and out of the mists lumbers a creature of nightmare! After a concerted effort, you are victorious! This combat will be remembered through the ages!
You and your friends have made it to the save point before their parents ring and tell them to come home.
Your party stampedes towards food, but your father kicks you out of the kitchen claiming you’ll spoil your dinner. He says the weather is too nice to play indoors and sends you all outside.
by Jeanette Everson
I am in a dungeon; the walls are hung with chains. Or… Am I in a deep valley, where the mountainsides close in like shelter? You decide. You will anyway. You will tell me that this is not a prison; you are not my captor. Will I believe you? You decide.
You think you are my protector (I should capitalise that: Protector – this is your fantasy, after all). I should respect that. Will you punish me if I am not reverent? Turn to page 24 for a physical punch; page 19 for emotional scarring. I’ve read both pages already, but I don’t spoil the intensity for you.
A dragon is breathing on my neck; I feel it’s fiery breath. I hold mine, frozen with dread-filled anticipation– will you be friendly, moving in for a kiss? Or hostile, burning with tongues of flame? You decide. I could try to slay, with the knife I stashed in my boot back on page 12, but am I strong enough? Will I fight? (Turn to page 82, I haven’t got that far yet, I can’t promise how that will end for me.) Or acquiesce? Remain compliant, bide my time? Turn back to page 7 for that. Repeat ad infinitum until one of us loses.
Will I run towards freedom? Perhaps there is a potion that will help me – A small glass bottle, shiny and purple as a beetle before you crush it underfoot to turn it blood-red like the venomous liquid it contains? A mysterious elixir to dull your senses or give me courage? Choices, choices…
I want to escape to the top of the mountain where the air is free, but the path is not straightforward. I must choose my own way out.
You will not have control of the pages I turn.
Entry-level Bounty Hunting is Not Glamorous
by Kelsie Colclough
Walls are hard to climb down when your boots have been half-destroyed and your teammate who you met yesterday, aka Oli the “Fashionable” Blacksmith, is too busy carrying the body of the evil sorcerer you’ve defeated to carry you.
They didn’t tell you this stuff at Plognonina University. They always make it sound so glamorous—with a wave of your wand the earth will move, you will enchant your enemies, aid your friends, etc, etc—but really it’s scaling down a wall because you’ve defeated the evil sorcerer (specifically, Godon the Volcano Dweller, but he destroyed your boots and so does not deserve to be remembered), his minions and his staircase. You didn’t take the Float &
Other Handy Zingers module because Blast ‘em and Zap ‘em was more up your alley and Professor Sert actually liked you, whereas Professor Yanhi looked at you like a tooth-healer frowning at a patient who has never flossed. Even if you wanted to cast Float or some other wishy-washy nonsense to solve this problem you can’t because your wand is ash.
You see, when you fight an evil sorcerer (or anyone worth their bounty), they go for the weak spots. You have no armour whereas Oli is decked out in the season’s latest chain mail; you’re easy pickings. The sorcerer sent a raging fireball your way. However, he obviously hadn’t taken Blast ‘em and Zap ‘em so he missed. Unfortunately, he hit your wand instead.
“Almost there,” Oli tells you. “You can buy a new brand-name wand. One that glows and stuff.” You grumble, “My last one glowed and stuff.”
Colclough / 2
Oli dumps the body below. It hits the ground and thumps. He says we make a fantastic team… Decent, maybe. You’ll think about upgrading the adjective once he dumps his bright blue armour.
by Nideesh Samant
It was called as the The Inn. If you were an adventurer, you visited The Inn. It was as simple as that. I had never seen it before, just heard many tales about it. However, I had decided to visit The Inn.
As I closed in on the location, the dark skies erupted into torrents of water. The howling winds drained out all the sounds of the night. In the mild fog that was settling in, I barely managed to spot The Inn. It looked like any regular lodge. I trudged along the muddy path and reached the oaken doors of the establishment. I knocked hard on the door and waited for an answer. The answer came instantly. The doors were opened by a short and scrawny old man, whose snow-white beard almost touched the floor.
He smiled at me and welcomed me inside. He informed me that he was the master of The Inn, and seated me in the dining area. Before I could ask him anything, he had placed a large tankard of ale and huge bowl of potage. I decided to hold on to my questions and dug into the grub. His brilliant blue eyes continued observing me. After I was done eating, he asked me to follow him. He led me to a corridor of many doors. Every door had a small window. He invited me to look through the windows. I looked through the window of the first door, expecting to see a room. However, I saw no room. I saw a whole world inside, a world full of dragons. All the other doors served as portals to other dimensions as well: the aquatic world, the land of horrors and many more. The old man held his arms out and addressed me.
“Choose your adventure.”
by Jimmy Hollis i Dickson
p1 You consider yourself basically
p2 Congratulations! You’ve been reelected POTUS!
p3 You enter your prison cell. Your cellmate is Harvey Weinstein. He’s only wearing a towel. “Wanna gimme a massage?” he asks.
You grab his crotch (p69)
Or you reply:
“I outrank you! You give ME a massage!” (p33)
“MAGA. Nice!” (p54)
“Let’s toss for it.” (p14)
p4 The congresspeople ask tough, intelligent questions. You:
answer them truthfully. (p8)
blame it all on North Korea. (p72)
blame it all on your rival in the last election. (p24)
tell them how yesterday you went around in 18 for an 18-hole game of golf. (p49)
p5 Your wife still won’t hold your hand in public. You:
hold the hand of the French President longer than is necessary. (p47)
call your daughter and ask her to come over. (p42)
call the Russian Embassy and ask if they can recommend any prostitutes. (p19)
p6 Congratulations! The KKK names you “Honorary Grand Master”!
p7 As soon as you reach the devastated city, you:
boast that you once walked 15 miles through a MUCH worse hurricane. (p71)
say “Our thoughts and prayers are with you. And isn’t this a great crowd?!” (p51)
calmly and efficiently make sure that everything possible is being done for those who have lost their homes. (p8)
p8 You are arrested and charged with impersonating the President. The game’s up, whoever you are!
p9 They stick to their story! You are heavily criticized in the press. You
call the story “fake news!” (p26)
assure the nation that those women really begged you to do it. (p56)
apologise humbly, say that’s you’re ashamed, and beg the women for forgiveness. (p8)
tell a risqué story about a Boy Scout and a beauty pageant contestant. (p16)
by Kris McGinnis
As sole astronaut of Icarus III, the first manned expedition to Mars, you yearn to discover the unknown. However, beyond the edge of space, your greatest cosmic threat awaits. Not from extraterrestrial encounters; but something much more mundane.
2000 tonnes of space debris inhabit Earth’s Lower Orbit, creating a minefield of man-made hazards. Carefully navigating through this mire of space junk, a jolting crash sets off the emergency warning system.
Engine ruptured, massive fuel loss; you curse humanity’s irresponsibility.
There’s two options.
A – Perform necessary repairs for re-entry to Earth, returning home defeated.
B – Continue onwards with limited function, with no hope of getting back.
Tethered to the outer craft, you patch up the damage, before heading back towards the sanctuary of the airlock.
You never saw it coming.
A large panel from an old russian satellite strikes from nowhere, ripping the line free and sending you despairingly into a free floating orbit.
In space, no one can hear you scream.
That doesn’t stop you using the remaining oxygen to curse mankind’s environmental footprint that has caused your fate and which you now, ironically, become part of.
The opportunity to be mankind’s next step in evolution sways you.
Landing on fumes, oxygen deprived, you set out to explore. The first steps onto the coppery, iron surface leave you gaping in awe at your footprints significance.
Surveying the dusty, crater filled landscape, something snagged onto a rocky outcrop catches your eye.
Edging closer, mind racing with possibilities, you discern it as faded, crinkled material. Grasping it tentatively, it looks… familiar? Tears well as realization forces you to your knees. With your final choking gasps, you rip the plastic shopping bag free, cursing Earth’s universal impact.
One small step for man.
One giant leap for mankind’s environmental footprint.
by Pritam Saikia
As the elevator doors closed shut, Patrick found himself feeling uncomfortable. The grey walls seemed oppressive and his suit tightened around his chest. The people around him looked straight on. They played their roles perfectly and he was determined to do the same.
Co-passengers stepped out. Excuse me’s and thank you’s were said. New folks hopped on. Much shuffling about all around. Feet shifting. Everyone looked straight on. Each time the doors closed he could feel the downward motion of the cabin. Smooth and effortless.
As he looked at his shiny black shoes, he suddenly realized that he had always been in this elevator. In this one endless trip downwards. That he had no role to play, no existence, outside this cubicle. That the concept of time held no sway here and it was impossible to know how many millennia might have passed in this journey.
He looked up. He wanted to step out each time a new and familiar floor opened up. But he couldn’t do it. It wasn’t part of his programming. His role was that of the Elevator Man and he can’t break character.
He tried to imagine the world outside. He searched his memories of the world outside the elevator but even as he did so, he realized that his memories were also a part of the programming. Cheap lines of code hastily written to help him play the role of the Elevator Man perfectly.
The role of the character forever waiting for the next moment when all he has is all around him.
What would you do if…
by Alexandra Murphy
What would you do if…
“So, imagine you’re lost in space – ”
“Don’t be stupid.”
“No, come on – imagine you’re lost in space. Look, I’ll come with you if you’re worried. We’re lost in space, together. Better?”
“No. I’m not playing another one of your stupid what-would-you-do-if games. I’m sick of them.”
“Right, whatever. Imagine you’re lost in space. We’re lost in space. The spaceship has crashed on a planet we don’t recognise.”
“What fucking spaceship?”
“I knew you’d be into it. The spaceship we took from our home planet. Right, and it’s crashed anyway, on a planet we don’t recognise. You don’t know if we can breathe the air. I’m injured. What do you do?”
“Take the space suit with the oxygen tank – “
“Mate, this is why I don’t play. You can’t fucking change the rules.”
“Nah, it’s broken. Damaged in the crash. Could explode any minute.”
“Right. Fine. I take the suit anyway, without the oxygen tank. There’s got to be a couple of minutes air in the helmet, right?”
“Cool, ok. So I put the helmet on and pop out the airlock, telling you I’ll be back in a jiffy. You can tell if you can breathe in an atmosphere by how it affects your skin right?”
“So I take one of my space-gloves off. Ta-da! No damage. We can breathe. Ditch the suit, off we skip to find you some help for those injuries.”
“Well. That’s what you think. We leave the spaceship and the door slams shut behind us. We’re in a jungle, everything is overgrown – it’s all shady and gloomy from the dense trees. Suddenly, we can hear growling.”
“For crying out loud. Are we nearly there yet?”
Blunt words, sharp blades
by Mark Warren
She revelled in the metallic taste of her enemies blood as it streaked down her face.
Ensuring her blade was clean first, she cupped some water in her hands and splashed it over her face. Another five today made seventeen in total. Seventeen of the land’s greatest heroes now no more than nameless wooden crosses in her garden.
Surely her father would be looking down from the stars and eating his words “adventuring is not for girls.” He’d called her weak and suggested princesses should seek more homely pleasures. Her brother was to be the adventurer, to prove his worth as successor to the throne.
She’d taken to tending the palace gardens, learning the different plants and their various
effects on the body and mind. It hadn’t been hard to slip a few leaves here and there in to his meals. She’d kept her father weak and confused for six months before finishing him with her brother’s blade.
The executioner’s axe silencing her brother’s pleas of innocence.
Ten years had passed since she’d became queen, the first to refuse a sedentary palace
life for one of quests and glory. The first of which had been to find the moonstone that now hanged around her neck, glinting in its namesake’s glow.
Her people had cheered her back then but times had changed. Her adventures regarded
as little more than piracy, plunder or murder. Her court, although loyal at first, found
themselves increasingly troubled with her choices, so she had solved that with a few sharp blades. After all she was the queen.
Since then the palace had been much quieter. Visitors hardly ever came, and then only
to kill her. She hoped one day one would be worthy. It seemed a fine way to die, the trophy of another great adventurer.